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The Customer

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is an independent organisation that provides an impartial, transparent dispute resolution service free of charge for higher education students in England and Wales. The OIA examines complaints from students who have utilised the internal complaints procedures of their higher education provider and expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome. The OIA’s primary aim is to ensure fair outcomes for students and promote good practice in higher education providers. The OIA plays an important role in upholding the rights of students and using learning from complaints to help improve policies and practices in higher education in England and Wales.

The Challenges

The OIA approached Hitachi Solutions, having identified several challenges in its operations. Following the system update, OIA observed a substantial increase in annual complaints and changes in the processes they are following. Similarly, another challenge was that two key areas—complaints and membership—used different IT systems. The lack of connectivity between the two systems reduced efficiency and required manual effort to co-ordinate.

The OIA wanted to streamline its casework IT system processes, reduce reliance on sharing case information by email, improve functionality, and further develop its portal to strengthen security. It also wanted to upgrade its membership IT system and enable automated integration between this and casework information to support data integrity and reduce duplication of effort.

laughing colleagues at desk

We could see that we could improve efficiency and effectiveness through using a modern, integrated approach and reduce organisational risks from using older software. Working in partnership with Hitachi Solutions meant we achieved our project goals and delivered new systems which have been smooth to transition to and will support our organisation’s continued growth.

Cathy Green
OIA Head of Operational Services

The Solution

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Service has been implemented by Hitachi Solutions throughout OIA, establishing a centralised platform connecting complaints and membership systems. This platform improves data viewing, searching, and reporting, offering clarity and streamlining information. Membership information, correspondence, and documentation linked to cases and contacts are now all within a single, modern system, supporting efficiency. OIA have strengthened security measures and now possess the ability to adjust security preferences based on the sensitivity of each case.

Improved portals allow students, their representatives, and higher education providers to more effectively monitor and track the progress of their cases using their personal logins. Additionally, this feature facilitates the uploading of case-related information in one central location, enhancing visibility and accessibility to all pertinent information.

The information gathered regarding a complaint to the OIA can be extensive and typically comes in various file formats. To make it easier for case-handlers, students and providers to view this information, it is sometimes compiled into a single PDF file with bookmarks to aid navigation. An additional feature has been added to the Dynamics 365 platform in order to help create these PDFs automatically, combining the data from the Portal with other relevant information linked to the individual’s profile.

Hitachi Solutions were really good to work with, expertly turning our processes into slick system functionality. Their patience, understanding and “one team” approach to this project facilitated a free-flowing, inclusive environment. Hitachi Solutions’ expert technical teams have delivered a great user experience, employing creative thinking to deliver to our often complex requirements.

Daniel Saward
OIA Head of Digital Technology

 The Future

OIA will continue their journey closely with Hitachi Solutions, our Lifetime Services team continue to ensure ongoing support for the solution and upgrades as needed. As the OIA continues to familiarise itself with the platform, the organisation aims to refine processes and develop further functionalities informed by the feedback of users and areas they identify, and to make better use of the organisation’s data. Furthermore, OIA also wish to utilise Hitachi Solutions’ expertise in the future, exploring options such as AI in order to develop their processes across the organisation